business productivity tipsMost people that come to this blog know I’m a business owner. I have run two businesses in my life, my current one, and one that I shut down.  I’m not just a blogger, but I also have a wide variety of services I provide for other bloggers.  Business is important to me and so is being an entrepreneur. There is a great feeling when you create a business and see it succeed. There is also a great feeling of sadness when a business doesn’t work out like you had hoped.  I’ve been in both boats before, so I consider myself a little experienced in it.  Both of my parents are entrepreneurs, so I caught the bug from them and I hope to pass it on to my son.  Creating something is exciting and what I have always enjoyed.

Starting a business and running it are two different things. You can easily start a business, but it can be much harder to run it.  You want to run it in a manner which will dictate success, but you also want to be the most efficient with you time and energy. It takes a lot of time to run a business, just ask my wife.  I’m not your typical business owner either. I still have a full time job, which I enjoy.  My business is just something I do on the side that helps me reach different financial goals for myself and to help other bloggers in every industry.  I don’t know where it will go, but I’m certainly enjoying the ride!  To help other business owners start out the new year on the right foot, I figured I would give you five tips to ensure you run it smoothly.

Tip #1 – Don’t Offer More Than You Can Provide

I have been guilty of this in the past.  I want to offer so many different things to my customers, that my mission gets lost.  My service gets cloudy and people don’t fully understand what I do. That’s a big no-no.  I need my customers to understand what I do, and when I do it, it’s done right.  When customers pay you for something, they want that in return. They don’t something half done or not done right.  As a customer, I get it. As a business owner, I want to provide as much as I can.  Remember, I run my business to make money.  We all talk about diversification to ensure the money is coming in, but you have to make sure you don’t overextend yourself.

Tip #2 – Under-promise and Over-deliver

This is something I live off of.  When someone asks me for help or needs me to do something, I try to never over-promise anything. The reason is I want to make sure I complete every job the way the customer wants it.  It’s always better to under-promise the job from the beginning. If they only expect you to do one thing, but then you complete other things, it makes them happy.  This is how I run my business.  I tell my customers I can get something done in 24 hours, but then I turn around and complete it in 2 hours.  It’s not that I’m fluffing the numbers or making it look hard, but I just want to make sure I have enough time to complete the job.  There is nothing worse than pissing off a customer because you couldn’t complete the project on time.

Tip #3 – Outsource What You Can’t Do

I outsource very little on this blog. The reason is because I know how to do most, if not all, things related to blogging. I have been doing it for years. That’s not to say that I don’t look for help when I need it.  Writing on a blog takes work and time.  Because of this factor, I hired two staff writers to write on here as well. This frees up my time to devote to other projects and building my blog management service.  Don’t be scared to outsource the work.  If you need help, especially with something you don’t know how to do, take the time to crunch the numbers.  If you have to teach yourself how to do something in your business, then take that time and put a cost associated with it.

You can do this by taking your hourly fee and how long it takes you to learn and complete the job.  If you can hire out the work for much less, then it’s a no-brainer.  You might not learn the task, but you can focus your time on money generating activities.  This year I will outsource my taxes. I used to use TurboTax and considered using TaxACT, but I’ve had so many different things going on that an accountant would be better this year.

Tip #4 – Productivity Apps Can Be Your Friend

There’s an entire industry devoted around productivity.  As humans, we strive to be productive (most of us anyway).  When we work, we want to get the job done as quickly as possible.  This is especially true when running a business.  As a business owner, you want to be productive, so you can finish the job and get paid.  The more jobs you can complete, the more you get paid.  It’s pretty simple.  Always look for ways to be more productive.

One way I plan on being more productive this year is with my business accounting. I have been using simple spreadsheets, but it’s time for an upgrade. I’ll be looking for accounting software for personal or business, especially something that works in the cloud. Since I run my business with an internet connection, I like having my data in the cloud.  I also use easy payment systems such as Paypal, which can all be done in the cloud.  It’s easy and makes my life easier.

Tip #5 – Use Services to Stay Organized

Organization is key in life and in business.  It doesn’t matter what you’re trying to do, you need to be organized. I use a trusty whiteboard to keep my head on straight, but that’s because I’m a very visual person.  When you run a business, things can get away from you quickly.  In order to stay abreast to what’s going on around you, look for services to help.  If you need to be able to access certain websites from anywhere, I recommend LastPass. I use it and it really helps me stay connected to sites I need to visit when I’m not on my computer.  If you need to keep and share files with clients, try services such as Dropbox or Box.  These are simple services that allow you to share and collaborate on files.  You can also just go with the classic Google Documents platform, which allows you to keep your files in one place and access them anywhere. It’s great for document management and data manipulation. I use it and recommend it.

While you’re staying organized, make sure to include some type of calendar.  I use Google Calendar as it syncs with my phone and computers, but there are others. I would suggest you find what works for you.  If you are tempted, try out Microsoft Offic 365, which has a nice cloud component to it for their popular applications.  Make sure to also include some form of backup into your life. I recommend Carbonite. I use it on my computers and it has saved my butt a number of times.  I gladly pay for this backup service.

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  1. I used to have a boss that would ALWAYS overpromise and do about half of what he said he’d do AND THEN get mad at the customer for demanding that he follow through. He created his own problems.

    That’s why I tell people I’ll never do anything for them. Ever. It’s a dream. 🙂

    1. Haha, it’s nice that you just tell people you won’t do anything for them. No responsibilities is nice! I always hate when people overpromise and then it comes back and they get mad at the customer.

  2. Great tips! I’ve been feeling stretched a little thin lately, so maybe it’s time to narrow my focus a little when it comes to my freelancing.

  3. Totally agree with the tips. I’d also add “if a client becomes a hassle, drop him”. I had very few bad clients, but one almost started getting abusive, thinking that, if I’m doing web design for him, he’s entitled to my first born, too. I cancelled our contract and immediately freed myself for way better clients. One of them worked with me for more than 3 years.

  4. As a business owner I am paranoid about overpromising. I do web design and if I’m not 100% sure how to do something, I’ll spend hours researching it before committing. I also agree with outsourcing what you can’t do/don’t have time for, that comes in handy when you’re crunched for time!

    1. I hear you there. I try to make sure I am always promising something that I can deliver on time and on budget. I’ve been burned before with my own mistakes, but that can happen.

  5. Indeed Grayson! Meeting expectation is one factor that can make business run smoothly. Never promise what you can’t deliver is another one. Stay real and true! Customers can sense lies.